Forests are essential to the health and quality of life of people everywhere, but longleaf pine forests are among the most rapidly disappearing ecosystems in the southeastern United States. Some 90 million acres of majestic longleaf pine forest once stretched from Virginia to Texas, but only 3 percent of this important natural system survives today, and more is lost each year due to fire suppression, agriculture and development.

Our 5,561-acre Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary, in the Piney Woods of East Texas, boasts one of the last remaining longleaf pine communities in Texas. A rare combination of swamp, open-floor forest and Southern pinelands, Sandyland is part of a comprehensive effort to protect and restore the longleaf pine ecosystem on the west Gulf coastal plain. Various pines, oaks and hickories, along with prickly pear cactus, yucca and more than 340 species of wildflowers are found there, along with American beech trees, southern magnolias and loblolly pines. The sanctuary provides habitat for a number of animal species—18 identified classes of amphibians, 114 bird species, 29 species of reptiles, 28 mammal species, 44 species of fish and a staggering 544 variations of butterflies and moths. The globally endangered Texas trailing phlox blooms in early spring on the property's upland sandhill communities and the same habitat nurtures the extremely rare white firewheel, which is only found in Hardin County, Texas. Sandyland also serves as a ‘living lab’ for several academic institutions.

Further south, our Lennox Foundation Southmost Preserve is home to one of just two remaining large stands of native Mexican sabal palms in the U.S.; they were once found across much of the lower Gulf Coast. For years Southmost has been a haven for scientists and birders enticed by the certainty of spotting dozens of rare species; the preserve’s thick Tamaulipan thornscrub creates prime wildlife corridor for endangered ocelots and jaguarondi. Southmost also lies within the Central Flyway, one of four principal migratory bird routes in North America.

Check out some of the work we’re doing to protect Texas forests:


Stay Updated

Learn about the places you love and find out how you can help by signing up for Nature eNews.

I'm already on the list Read our privacy policy

Thank you for joining our online community!

We'll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates, and exciting stories.